JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Just before noon on a recent Tuesday, Michael Price signed-in daughter Cheyenne and son Michael at the Learners to Leaders Academy.
Like a handful of local daycares, the Philips Highway business offers daycare 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Price says he needs the flexibility in order to make it to his night shift as a shuttle bus driver.
Price already had to quit one job because daycare hours didn't match his schedule. Without evening child care, he says, he'd have to do it again.
"I probably would have to quit my job in order to take care of them"
"Basically we had a lot of parents coming in and their number one concern was: 'I work weekends I work nights.' And our main concern at learners to leaders is being able to accommodate all of our parents," said Candace Smiley, a teacher at the daycare.
Smiley says it's clients like Mr. Price that prompted them to open up 24/7. In fact, she says, they would have lost nine clients otherwise.
"With this economy, you kind of have to take what you can get. A lot of these jobs they want you to work weekends to work nights and if you have bills and thinks of that nature you're going to take what you can get."
There are 62 child care facilities in Duval County alone that offer irregular hours care, though not all offer it around the clock. While the Department of Children and Families doesn't report an increase in 24/7 daycare, the entire industry is evolving.
Barbara Williams, of Kimbari Child Care Facility in Mandarin, says it's just one way they have to meet the evolving needs of their clients.
"We're also in the process of preparing to do pick up and drop off for parents, so that will be beneficial for parent in early morning making sure their children are here on time, picking them up children from school."
Williams says it's important to help a child adjust to extended care through a predictable routine.
"We go through the clean up, we prepare dinner for them, they have nighttime stories and then by 8 o clock it's lights out."
Shonte Slocumb, who drops off daughter Kierstyn and son Kendall before her evening work hours at a nearby call center, says flexibility is essential.
"Had I not been able to find a 24 hour daycare facility I would have had to find another job ... definitely essential. I couldn't live without it. Couldn't pay the bills without it."
"When I look at the relief on the parents' face to know they have a place that can leave their child that they feel totally comfortable with..."
"Then it just lets me know that we're doing the right thing performing a service that the community really needs."
We did some checking for Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties. Between them, they have just three that extended day cares, though none are open 24 hours. How do you check out a 24 daycare? Ken Amaro with that story, First For You Friday at 5:30 on First Coast News on WJXX-ABC 25 and WTLV-NBC 25.
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